A maternal health campaigner, Ms. Adepeju Jayeoba, has stressed the need to make better provision of services for maternal and paediatric care in Nigeria to reduce maternal and child mortality.
Jaiyeoba is a social entrepreneur and activist who created the Brown Button Foundation as well as Mother’s Delivery Kit which, together, create low cost healthcare options and delivery kits containing basic sterile supplies for expectant mothers in Nigeria.
She said the availability of the right medical personnel and equipment will help in reducing maternal and child deaths, especially at the community level.
She spoke on Friday at the maiden edition of the PUNCH Digital Town Hall with the theme ‘Strengthening the Nigerian maternal and child health through clinical and community-based interventions’.
According to her, there is a need to have holistic interventions towards addressing maternal and child health issues in the country.
“When you hear that one in 13 women die during childbirth, those numbers are nothing unless you know someone who is a face behind the numbers you see.
“In 2011 when my friend died during childbirth, the statistics became real to me.
“That was when I visited rural communities to know what was happening and I saw women giving birth on bare floors, midwives using their mouths to suck mucus from newborn babies’ noses and we decided to come together to intervene in this regard.
“We started off by training birth attendants across these rural communities and engaged community members and sensitised pregnant women across board.
“As we began to move from one community to the other, we realised that training birth attendants was not enough; we needed to provide them with sterile supplies and all they need during childbirth,” she said.
Jayeola said with quality nutrition for both mother and child, every woman will have the opportunity to live and every child will unleash their potential.
“If a midwife is using her mouth to suck out mucus from noses of newborns and women are giving birth on bare floors, we need to be able to provide these people with all their basic needs like mucus extractor, delivery mat, and infant receiver.
“We also need to make it affordable and accessible; because the cost of these items make them inaccessible.”
Jayeoba said with the aid of her organisation, 500,000 delivery kits had been distributed across 346 communities between 2018 and early 2019.
“The celebration of the delivery kits brought a bigger picture to us and, slowly, we began to realise that about half of the 500,000 births we celebrated will not even live to see their fifth birthday.
“Malnutrition is going to take them away and we realised the need to have a holistic view across maternal and child health intervention and we started looking critically at nutrition, because a lot of children are dying as a result of malnutrition,” she noted.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, malnutrition is a direct or underlying cause of 45 percent of all deaths of under-five children.
“Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 percent of children under the age of five.
“An estimated two million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition, but only two out of every 10 children affected is currently reached with treatment.
“Seven percent of women of childbearing age also suffer from acute malnutrition,” UNICEF said.
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